World Cup 2018 - Day Five at a glance

England expects - not too much actually - as they start their campaign against Tunisia

 Raheem Sterling and Trent Alexander-Arnold enjoy a drill during an England training session  in St Petersburg. Photograph: Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images

Raheem Sterling and Trent Alexander-Arnold enjoy a drill during an England training session in St Petersburg. Photograph: Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images

 

THE MATCHES

GROUP F Sweden v South Korea, (Nizhny Novgorod, 1pm, RTE/ITV) Betting: Sweden 10/11, South Korea 10/3, Draw 11/5

GROUP G Belgium v Panama, (Sochi, 4pm, RTE/BBC) Betting: Belgium 1/7, Panama 20/1, Draw 7/1

GROUP G Tunisia v England, (Volgograd, 7pm, RTE/BBC) Betting: Tunisia 8/1, England 2/5, Draw 3/1

All games can be followed on The Irish Times liveblog, starting from 12.30pm.

ONE TO WATCH

Coursed mercilessly by the red tops in England, Raheem Sterling seemingly can’t do right for doing wrong off the pitch. But the fact remains that on it Gareth Southgate needs his winger firing on all cylinders if England are to live up to their, admittedly meagre, expectations in these finals. At his best Sterling is almost unplayable but can be maddeningly inconsistent with his final ball and has a tendency to go missing when it matters most. But with his searing pace and ability to get in behind defences can the Manchester City man deliver on the biggest stage of all?

Panama’s Jose Luis Rodriguez and team-mates during a training session at the Olympic Park Arena in Sochi. Photograph: Mohamed Messara/EPA
Panama’s Jose Luis Rodriguez and team-mates during a training session at the Olympic Park Arena in Sochi. Photograph: Mohamed Messara/EPA

YOUNG GUNS

Jose Luis Rodriguez could spend the final day of his teenage years playing in Panama’s historic first World Cup game against one of the tournament favourites Belgium in Sochi.

The 19-year-old, whose birthday is on Tuesday, plays in Belgium having signed with Gent’s under-21 team from Panamanian side Chorillo in 2016. If Rodriguez makes is selected he will have his work cut out with Belgium enjoying the midfield skills of players of the quality of Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne.

DID YOU KNOW?

Belgium’s Thomas Meunier in action with Costa Rica’s Celso Borges during a recent friendly in Brussels. Photograph: Francois Walschaerts/Reuters
Belgium’s Thomas Meunier in action with Costa Rica’s Celso Borges during a recent friendly in Brussels. Photograph: Francois Walschaerts/Reuters

“Being a postman is much harder than you would expect. The next time you see the postman coming to your house, you should open the door and give them a smile. Maybe offer them a cup of tea or something. Because they have surely had a hard day.”

Belgium’s Thomas Meunier is not your conventional footballer – the 26-year-old is a keen artist – nor did he take a conventional route to the top. Struggling to make ends meet and with no guarantee of a career in the big leagues, Meunier has held down jobs as a postman and an assembly worker in a car factory. Life is slightly more comfortable now for the PSG full back.

MONEY MATTERS

So who would win a World Cup based on Gross Domestic Product you ask? Surely Germany you would think, but the defending World Cup champions would only be second behind Japan, whose GDP of $4.87 trillion is over a trillion more than Germany’s $3.68 trillion . England are third ($2.62 trillion) and get to wave their sterling notes at the French, who are fourth on $2.58 trillion. And although Denmark pipped Ireland in the playoffs, the Irish GDP of $334 billion in 2017 would see us pip the Danes into 19th spot, one slot behind Nigeria.

GOLDEN BOOT

3 goals Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
2 goals Denis Cheryshev (Russia) Diego Costa (Spain)

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